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NRLP’s New Wholesale Power Agreement Portends Savings and Energy Source Options

By Chris Nault/App State

In less than two years, New River Light and Power (NRLP), the utility owned and operated by Appalachian State University, will begin purchasing power from NTE Carolinas LLC (NTE).

NRLP General Manager Ed Miller, left, and Appalachian Chief Sustainability Officer Dr. Lee Ball don hard hats while visiting an electric substation. Photo by Marie Freeman

According to NRLP General Manager Ed Miller, the wholesale power agreement, effective in January 2022, “aims to provide choice, cost savings, conservation incentives and innovative rate structures for its customers and the university.”

“Under the NTE contract,” Miller said, “we will be able to create new, innovative rate structures, such as time-of-use rates, so our customers will have more control and choice over their energy consumption and spending. Additionally, we will no longer be restricted in how much solar can be put on our system.”

“Creating the partnership with NTE was the essential step needed for Appalachian to accelerate efforts to reach climate neutrality related to purchased electricity,” said Dr. Lee Ball, Appalachian’s chief sustainability officer. “With the new NTE partnership, the university will no longer have limitations regarding the purchase and development of renewable energy,” Ball said.

Ball continued, sharing how the NTE partnerships will factor into Appalachian’s new Climate Action Plan: “Our climate action planning process focuses on determining how to finance the additional costs associated with adding significantly more renewable energy to the university’s energy portfolio. Additional benefits of the NTE partnership allow NRLP to offer its customers, including the town of Boone, a source of renewable energy that can help them achieve their own climate neutrality goals.”

Miller said, “We are not tied to one generating facility or one source of energy under this contract. With NTE, we will have the ability to go out and purchase energy from other sources in the marketplace, including renewable energy. Our customers have told us they want a choice in where their energy comes from and we are able to offer that under our new agreement.”

Miller shared that a 10% cost reduction has been passed along to NRLP customers since March 2019, “and we expect to see additional cost savings of between 5% and 7% for our customers under our new agreement.”

NRLP serves nearly 8,500 residential and commercial customers who reside in and near the town of Boone. The utility was the fifth lowest cost provider in the state, on average, for residential customers in 2018, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.